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10 Effective employee retention strategies for expats


Cooking Europe.Tilburg, May 10th 2023

In the fast-paced and competitive world of the hospitality industry, retaining employees is a constant challenge for HR professionals and managers.


When it comes to expatriate employees, the task becomes even more critical and complex. Expats are individuals who have chosen to uproot their lives and careers to work in a foreign country, often leaving behind family and familiar surroundings. Ensuring their success and commitment to the company requires a deeper level of support and understanding. 

Cooking Europe is expert in recruiting staff from abroad to work in restaurants and hotels. After all of our years of experience, we want to explore with you ten effective employee retention strategies specifically tailored for expatriates in the hospitality industry, to help you foster a loyal, motivated, and diverse workforce.


How do we manage to retain employees in hospitality?


1.Create a suitable onboarding experience.


Expatriates face unique challenges when starting a new job in a foreign country. The process of integration may be slower due to cultural adjustments and language barriers. To facilitate a smooth transition, it is crucial to have a well-planned onboarding process in place. Provide comprehensive support, including preparing all necessary documentation, schedules, and training on the company’s operations. Additionally, communicate the new employee’s arrival to the existing team, encouraging a warm and supportive welcome.

In order to improve staff retention, it is a must to create a welcoming atmosphere to the new members of the team.


2. Provide a dedicated contact person and training

Assigning a mentor to the new expatriate can significantly impact their assimilation process. The mentor should serve as a cultural guide, offering a proper welcome, providing training, and being a readily available support system for any concerns or questions that arise. This support helps the new employee feel welcomed, valued, and part of the team, which can positively impact their long-term commitment to the company. This person that knows the values of the company, can show to the new employee all necessary operational aspects to start being efficient from day one. However, the information has to be clear and with the right expectations. Working in hospitality is a fantastic way to interact with people so let’s take this opportunity to have in each restaurant a mentor that can show the culture of the company and introduce the values of the organization.


3. Regular Follow-up and Recognition

Regularly scheduled meetings with the new employee are essential to provide constructive feedback, offer guidance, and recognize their strengths and achievements. Constructive feedback helps them understand their progress, while recognition for their efforts boosts their morale and motivation. A sense of appreciation and value can lead to increased loyalty and job satisfaction. All the recognition is a key part of their attachment to the company but we also have to keep in mind that the tasks and expectations have to be clear. If we don’t set this from the beginning, we can demotivate the employee as its not used to a certain level of quality. Employees should have at all times the feeling that they are learning and that they can make progress in their career.



4. Training for the existing team

For the existing team, working with expatriates may present unfamiliar challenges. Offering cultural sensitivity training and promoting diversity awareness can help minimize misunderstandings and conflicts. Encourage open communication and develop a supportive atmosphere where everyone is treated with respect and understanding.

Training is sometimes a very ‘used’ word in hospitality but not always is really taken care by the companies. The best training is actually the one that is direct on a daily basis given by managers showing their colleagues with examples. How would a member of staff respect the management if the management does not provide example and training?

In the case of hospitality staff recruited abroad, training can work both ways as they also bring their expertise and knowledge learnt in another country.

5. Adaptation to non-Dutch speaking staff


Recognize that expatriate employees may not be fluent in the Dutch language. To facilitate communication and integration, make adjustments in the workplace, such as providing instructions and conducting meetings in both Dutch and English. Additionally, consider creating bilingual work websites and apps to enhance accessibility for non-Dutch speakers.

All this might sound time consuming at the beginning but all these improvements can make a difference in the future, the companies can get ready for any member of staff and the staff will appreciate the consideration. Nowadays, internationalization is a common standard. The hospitality is becoming more global and we must take advantage and travel to other cultures.


6. Offer professional development opportunities


Investing in the professional growth of expatriate employees not only benefits them individually but also demonstrates the company’s commitment to their success. Offer opportunities for Dutch language courses, hospitality certifications, and provide support for attending relevant fairs or workshops. Empowering employees to expand their skills and knowledge fosters a sense of loyalty and appreciation.



7. Provide growth opportunities within the company


Employees, including expatriates, seek opportunities for career advancement and growth. It is essential to challenge them with new responsibilities and projects, allowing them to develop new skills and gain valuable experiences in hospitality. Providing a clear path for growth within the company encourages employees to stay committed and motivated to contribute their best.



8. Build a positive work environment and culture


A positive work culture is a driving force for employee satisfaction and retention. Developing a supportive, inclusive, and collaborative environment where employees feel valued, appreciated, and encouraged to share their ideas. Encourage team-building activities, recognize achievements, and celebrate cultural diversity to build a sense of unity and camaraderie within the workplace.



9. Promote work-life balance

Expatriates not only have professional responsibilities but also personal ones, especially during their adjustment to a new country. Recognize the need for work-life balance by offering flexibility in working hours and considering additional time off for overtime worked. Support their integration process by allowing them time to settle in and explore their new surroundings.

The world of hospitality is challenging and the costs are always knocking at the door. Facing these challenges in a proper way, will help to improve the hours and productivity of the company in order to give to employees that extra room for life development. At this moment, in the restaurant industry, the job offers are numerous and very attractive. In Cooking Europe, we help hospitality companies to find and retain talent that look for a work-life balance.

10. Embrace collaborative leadership

In the modern workplace, leadership is evolving from a top-down hierarchical approach to one that involves collaboration and employee involvement. Involve employees in decision-making processes and communicate the company’s vision clearly, ensuring everyone understands their role in achieving common goals. When employees feel valued and empowered, they are more likely to be committed and motivated to contribute to the company’s success.



At Cooking Europe, we understand the importance of employee retention, especially when it comes to our expatriate staff. Our team is committed to creating a warm and supportive environment that creates success and well-being of all our candidates, regardless of their cultural background or country of origin.



If you are a hospitality company looking to create or improve your team by adding international staff, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Cooking Europe. We specialize in providing comprehensive solutions for integrating expatriate employees into your workforce and ensuring their long-term success within your organization. 


Contact us today to learn more about how Cooking Europe can help you create a thriving team with international talent. Together, let’s make your hospitality business a beacon of excellence in the global market.



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